Starting Your Christmas Shopping? 5 Gifts Perfect for Newlyweds

ADA PIMENTEL

 

One of the options for the blessing at the conclusion of the wedding Mass reads, May you… have solace in your friends and enjoy true peace with everyone.

 As friends and family of a newlywed couple it is our job to help them throughout their marriage and on their way to salvation. Of course, the majority of the work is up to them, but there are still many ways we can offer support-- one of the most tangible being through gifts.

The purpose behind wedding gifts is to provide the newlyweds the things they need to start their life together, and while everyone does need sheets and towels and dishes, these don’t necessarily support your friends in their actual marriage. Here, a few ideas for meaningful gifts to help them along the way.

A date night in

Common wisdom says, “Never stop dating.” Give your friends some treats to enjoy at home, while they relax in each other’s company. A two player game or a book of Mad-Libs, some snacks, a nice bottle of wine, and voila! The perfect date night in.

A date night out

After planning a wedding, budgets are often tight, which means luxuries often get cut out for a few months. A gift card to a nice restaurant or tickets to a concert or movie can be a great excuse for a night out without breaking the bank. Consider planning with several friends to splurge on an event the couple would really enjoy, but which may not be in their budget. Of course, you may have to ask ahead of time whether their calendar is open!

 Practical religious items

When I got married a friend sent an Advent wreath. I had never had one before, but it set the tone for a prayerful first Advent together. A small nativity scene, family Bible, or some holy salt for blessing their home are all good options. Consider including a small booklet of prayers or a note about how you celebrate different occasions throughout the liturgical year.

Words of wisdom

The best gift my husband and I received was a simple note that read, Welcome to marriage (or as we call it, The Eternal Sleepover). Don’t forget to get cocktails together. Our friends’ humor and advice were exactly what we needed during our jittery period of anticipation before the wedding. Consider passing on the best wedding advice you ever received or a book that had a major impact on your marriage.

 A Polaroid camera

After all the wedding hubbub has died down, and all the photos have been posted to social media, people often forget to document the silly, happy, or even mundane moments of their lives. A Polaroid (or a few disposable cameras) is a great way to remind newly married couples that the adventures are just beginning, and that these new memories deserve to be cherished.

Over the years married couples rely on friends for many things: solace in hardship, companionship in good times, and a support network through all the little highs and lows. A small token of your friendship on their wedding day lets your friends know you care for them and that they are assured of your friendship in the years to come.


About the Author: Ada Pimentel studied English at the University of Dallas and currently teaches elementary school. She married her college best friend in November 2017. When she is not teaching, Ada can be found contemplating classical education, redecorating her apartment for the hundredth time, and reading British novels.

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Readers Share | The Saints Who've Shaped Your Relationships

This week as the Church celebrates the dead, the communion of saints, and all souls in Purgatory on All Hallow’s Eve, All Saints Day, and All Souls Day, respectively, we invited you to share the holy men and women who’ve interceded in your spiritual lives and relationships on our social media.

For inviting us and others into your deep joy, for fostering hope in God’s faithfulness in women still awaiting their love story, for witnessing to abandon and reckless trust in the Father, thank you. Your responses were too many to list in a single post--let alone to list every woman who cited Our Lady, Saints Therese, John Paul II, or Louis and Zelie Martin as favorite patrons! We read every single one and find each so uniquely, personally beautiful.

Here, a selection of your stories of saintly intercession:

St Gemma - for many reasons! My husband is a pharmacist, I was seeking employment when we were first married and we both recently lost our fathers. She’s the patron saint of: Pharmacists, children who have lost parents and those seeking employment! - Danielle

Blessed Emperor Karl of Austria and his wife, Servant of God, Empress Zita. They were a beautiful Catholic married couple and have been a great role model for our marriage. - @danielleduet

St. Michael the Archangel. His battle courage was inspiring to me, and helped me in my own spiritual warfare. Like St. Michael, I was able to cast my own demons out. - @_desirita_

St. Therese and St. Zelie Martin. I’ve struggled with finding and being content in my vocation, and through their intercession have received many graces. - @thebrownebunch

St. Raphael. I met my soon-to-be fiancé through Catholic Match and Raphael's intercession throughout our relationship has been so influential. He's the patron saint of their website and the hero of our relationship. - @violetsheabee

St. Therese has had (and continues to have) a profound impact on how myself in relationship with my fiancé. Long distance has required a lot of humility and trust on both of our parts, and I've leaned on her Little Way to help me do small things that benefit our relationship with each other and with God. - @meganboes

St. Joseph! The St. Joseph novena played a big role in both our individual discernment journeys. As a couple, any time we have a difficult situation and don't know what to pray for, we say his novena, and always receive exactly what we need, and then some! Plus, all the men in my family have Joseph as their middle name, and so does my husband! - @acrgripshover

Our Lady of Angels. - @i.marie.daly

St. Anthony. - @vegan_wannabe_81

I got engaged on the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, by the grace of God and through the intercession of St. Joseph, Mama Mary, and St. Anne. - @meganaosborn

St. Thomas More, Mother Mary and St. Joseph. - @marie_xavier_felix

St. Maria Goretti. - @paigealexandrahussey

St. Therese, St. Faustina, and the Holy Family! -@becca_from_texas

St. Josemaria Escriva. - @akeeshers

St. Therese of Lisieux and St. Cecilia! My senior year of college, while my husband and I were still dating, I felt a call to a religious vocation. I was so confused about it so I prayed countless novenas to Therese--I didn’t hear an immediate response, but I eventually did. That spring break, some girlfriends and I drove to Nashville for a retreat with the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia (Cecilia is one of my faves because I’m a musician). While I loved it there, I felt a peace within my heart that I was called to marriage. Two years later, my husband proposed. - @josieweisenberger

St. Gianna Molla and her husband, Pietro! We named our first born after her! - @thetinymangia

Our Lady and St. Louis de Montfort. - @maddy__anne__

St. Joseph! My parents did a novena to St Joseph to pray for a husband for me and weeks into the novena, [my future spouse] came along! And we got engaged on May 1, the Feast of St Joseph the Worker. - @rachelgmz

St. Therese of Lisieux! Ever since I was a young girl, I have been praying novenas to her in the hopes of finding my future husband. She is my patron saint, and my fiancé's favorite. We asked her special intercession for our relationship on a recent trip to the National Shrine in DC, and he proposed on her feast day this year, along with a beautiful white rose! - @whateverisgracious

Our guardian angels! - @ann.elissa

St. Ignatius of Loyola. My husband and I would pray his Prayer for Generosity while we were dating and it was a constant reminder to serve the other person. - @jessie.dupre

St. Elia. - @soulachreim

St. Monica, St. Anne, and St.  Michael...mother Mary above all. - @scenescerity.images

St. Jude. I began his novena and on the last day saw [my future husband] Wesley, and knew I should see where things went with him. After that we have prayed to him every night and I began seeing St. Jude everywhere. Now, Wesley and I are getting married [this fall] (2 years after I began my novena)! - @rach_whalen

Our Lady Undoer of Knots, Saint Joseph, Saint Anne, Saint Anthony, Saint Michael, Saint Jude Thaddeus, Saint Raphael, and Saint Dymphna. I keep adding them! - @edna_songz

Saint Veronica. She has inspired me to wipe my husband’s face as he carries his crosses. She reminded me what we are called to do as brothers and sisters in Christ and had a profound role in shaping our relationship. - @brittbritt_ottens

Sts. Louis and Zelie Martin, St. Therese’s parents. The man who is courting me and I had to go two months without seeing each other when we began our relationship. He sent me a talk about sanctification in marriage, which focused on their lives; since then, we have continuously asked for their intercession as we discern marriage! They have become a major influence for me and we are thankful to have another beautiful couple to look up to! - @alynacampero

Saint Therese of Lisieux; she is always reminding us to give ourselves fully to each other and to never seek anything in return. She teaches us how (in Story of a Soul) to live life in a way that strives for selfless love and complete humility. And her parents guide us in how we will want to raise our kids someday. - @maddie7548

To each of you who responded to or have been moved by this question and its answers, we are grateful. If you have suggestions for future reader-sourced topics, be sure to share them with us for consideration!

Images by Lionhearted Photography, seen in Amy + Jake | Midwinter Mountain Wedding

Our Perspectives on Learning to Pray with Your Beloved

We’ve been asked recently to share tips for establishing a prayer routine with your spouse--intimacy and time together both change from engagement to marriage, and the desire to establish dedicated spiritual habits in your life together is a worthy one. But where to begin? Or what if the habits you set out to establish don’t feel like they’re working?

Like any language, like any habit, prayer is learned. Give yourselves permission to try different times and methods of shared prayer time and to change your routine if necessary--if, for instance, tiredness makes bedtime prayer more an obligation than a grace, try a week of praying over morning coffee or when you and your spouse come home from work, instead.

Know yourselves, and the means of worship and dialogue with the Lord unique to each of you, and how you might join your voices together--through Theology or Scripture, spontaneous prayer, the divine office, Praise and Worship, the Rosary, or otherwise. Be open to your spouse’s spiritual inclinations, even if they’re new or different from your own--love for each other, and for the Father, goes beyond feelings and even beyond comfort. Our call to step outside the comfortable doesn’t end in discomfort--it ends in communion.

Here, honesty and reflections from our team on establishing and growing a prayer life alongside your beloved.

Jiza

My husband and I do well with the occasional novena, seasonal prayers, or fasting together. But as for praying regularly, his frequent travel for work means we are often in different places, literally. Routine isn’t feasible, and once we do get comfortable in one, God uproots us. I realize we aren’t called to be comfortable, so it’s probably edifying in itself.

Andi

Just do it. I often feel a nudge from the Holy Spirit at bedtime but because my husband and I are so tired, most nights we just pass out, forgetting to pray together. Lately I’ve been trying to reach out and say, “hey, do you want to pray?” He always responds, “Sure,” and leads us.

Stephanie

In our current season of raising young children, it’s easy for me to compare the prayer life my husband and I shared in the past (Bible studies, holy hours, day trips to cathedrals and holy sites, frequent Rosaries) to the one we have now, involving far less freedom with social events and uninterrupted time. While the demands of family life don’t mean we’re less responsible for our spiritual lives, we have had to cultivate peace with the opportunities we do have, and to recognize that even if our prayer is less community-centered and more rooted in our home, this is the mode in which the Lord calls us to live out our vocation in the here and now. We are definitely a work in progress in this area! I’d also encourage couples to continue calling each other on in their personal spiritual lives, as well. I find it such an act of generosity and good will when my husband encourages me to go on my own to Adoration or confession.

Looking for more practical tips on praying together? From the archives, our favorite past posts on the subject:

The learning curve of combining your spirituality with your beloved’s | 4 Tips for creating a prayer space in your home | Working through spiritual differences when you feel “unequally yoked” | Suggested patrons for your relationship and a selection of the most beautiful novenas and prayers to the saints | A guided meditation on praying with your wedding vows using lectio divina | How to plan a personal retreat for you and your beloved | How learning to communicate as a married couple is like learning to pray together, and why it’s okay to struggle | Spiritual book recommendations for brides | Our tips for a bathing your honeymoon in a spirit of prayer | How and why to consider bringing examen prayer into your relationship

We share our imperfections hoping within them, you find freedom. Constantly we are striving for accountability, vulnerability, and--above all--a deeper relationship with the Lord, offering ourselves and our spouses to him. If a lie has crept in that every other couple but you has it together, with a perfectly dedicated prayer life to match, know we are there beside you, always chasing holiness by way of our call to marriage.

Editors' Picks | Vol. 14: Catholic Home Décor

At Spoken Bride, we love a good book, a good meal, a standout statement necklace, a heel you can dance in, and the list goes on. And when we make those discoveries, we want to tell everyone. So every month or two, we're sharing our latest and favorite finds in everything engagement, wedding, and honeymoon-related.

Did you know the Spoken Bride Vendor Guide has a Gifts & Home Décor section? In addition to the artists and creators whom we’re proud to partner with, today we’re also sharing additional items that inspire beauty and prayer in your home (non-sponsored).

Framed artwork: Spoken Bride Vendor Michelle Arnold Paine

Framed artwork: Spoken Bride Vendor Michelle Arnold Paine

Stephanie, Co-Founder & Editor in Chief

Vatican Gift Icons: Iconography has been my favorite type of religious art for a long time; I love the immersive nature of the images for both artist and viewer and their many deep, beautiful layers of prayer and symbolism. Icons purchased through the Vatican’s online gift shop can be blessed by the Holy Father at your request--if you and your beloved aren’t honeymooning in Rome, items like these are a wonderful option for acknowledging your unique call as spouses within the universal Church.

Consecrate This House print: To celebrate your first home as husband and wife is to accept the invitation to make the home a domestic church and school of love. This elegant print from a Catholic-owned shop (one of our brides!) inspired by Scripture is a reminder “of God's presence within our homes and that He will never abandon us.”  It would take on a wonderful significance in your entryway, dining space, or another area of your home where your friends and family gather.

Wrought Iron Advent Candle Holder: I’m drawn to simple design for my home and love the clean styling of this candle holder, which could be dressed up with scattered greenery during the Advent season and would fit well with minimalist, rustic, or modern decor.

 

Jiza, Co-Founder & Creative Director

Monastery Icons: This company offers a wide variety of sacred art, including sculpture, jewelry, and, of course, icons. All icons are written by a religious brother in the U.S.

Lily Porter Niederpruem Art: It’s beautiful when the concept of “Catholic” art extends beyond the literal. For the abstract art lover, Lily Niederpruem describes her colorful, Impressionist-style oil paintings as an invitation to contemplate the spirituality of God at work in the natural world, “because nature shares an intimate relationship with the sacred.” Graphite drawings and watercolors are also available. I have a print of her Luminous Mysteries painting, and I love it!

 

Andi, Business Director

Sick Call Crucifix: Our dear friends gave us a crucifix similar to this as a wedding gift, along with holy water, beeswax candles, and instructions on how and when to call a priest for the sacrament of Anointing of the Sick. Although I generally don’t want to even think about needing to use this kit, I do like acknowledging this sacrament in our home and having necessary items ready. It’s like having an emergency kit for our souls!

Outdoor Statues: When my husband and I first bought our home ten years ago, I stumbled upon an Our Lady of Grace statue at a local outdoor shop and immediately brought her home. She’s lived in various places in our backyard ever since, usually with white roses nearby.

Sacred Heart Enthronement: The Enthronement of the Sacred Heart is a ceremony led by the Legion of Mary, wherein a family makes a formal entrustment of their lives to Christ. My family participated several years ago, and it was beautiful. We love having the image of Jesus’s Sacred Heart right on our mantel, under Our Lady of Guadalupe. Jesus is right there in the heart of our home, watching over us as we play, read, watch movies.

We love the sensory nature of the Catholic faith and the ways it invites us to contemplate the love of God in tangible ways—including those that can be experienced daily in our homes. Be sure to share the items that draw you into contemplation and beauty in the comments and on our social media.

Tips for When You and Your Beloved's Prayer Lives Feel in Different Places

LARABETH MILLER

 

As a newlywed, I had this perfect image of married spirituality. I felt I had a spiritual life that had already known suffering, and that a golden triangle between my me, my new husband, and God seemed like a new beginning. A chance for deep, holy camaraderie.

Photography: Spoken Bride Vendor    An Endless Pursuit

Photography: Spoken Bride Vendor An Endless Pursuit

I was a bit surprised during marriage prep to find my husband and I unequally yoked in our understandings of our souls. I remember the day I asked him if we could try to pray the rosary a few times a week together. Even though he knew praying the rosary is good, he didn’t see the necessity of saying the Hail Mary over and over. And even though I tried to explain the mediation aspect, his mind was still stuck on the practicality of it: “Doesn’t Our Lady know we love her if we just say it once?” he asked. From there, I didn’t know how to change his mind, and I felt powerless. Yet he graciously complied, knowing it was what I wanted.

In my mind, it was now my duty to help him grow closer to God and I was already a failure.

As our married days turned into months, I became puzzled and frustrated as to how to handle these differences in our spiritual lives. When we conceived our first baby, the gravity of our duty as spiritual guides to our children suddenly leaped before me. I panicked, knowing the family unit is the top institution Satan aims to destroy. I wanted to enforce a prayer regimen for my husband and I, thinking this would draw us closer to seeing eye to eye in devotion and fortitude.

But this is not how marriage works. Matthew’s Gospel demonstrates that each of us arrives at the vineyards at different times, just as God intended. That is the true beauty of it: God has placed this man into your life so that he can have a companion with whom to experience divine love. Your job as a spouse is to care for him now, in body and soul. More often than not, that requires prayer to be done in silence, all while being unseen.

Don’t let this fool you into thinking you are less. Christ knows your every fiber and virtue. Your gifts hold every tool needed to help--or in some cases, drag--your spouse to heaven. I had to learn that the only responsibility we have is to draw our own eyes towards God, and to abandon our husbands to the will of the Father.

I’ve realized your marriage will fall short in more ways than you can imagine. You are, after all, married to a human being. He may not be able to understand your struggles or have the right words to say when you experience the “bad times” recognized in your vows. When it comes to sickness and health, it’s not just the body, but also the soul that can be afflicted. One or both of you may have vices that seem insurmountable. Even external complications might present themselves, only to be wrestled with for some time.

As your lives progress, so many things will cause both of you to fail in providing for each other’s needs. I’ve found it helpful to always speak up gently and ask your spouse about his or her needs, but you can’t expect anything to be perfect. We are always called to carry the crosses of our spouse, in a life that can sometimes seem like Calvary.

That is why Christ will always be your first love. Where else would he fit into your marriage but in the gaping holes and cracks neither of you can fill alone?

Why would there ever be any reason to run after him faster if everything was solved? What a blessing to experience the empty losses and hollow recesses our souls, screaming with the desire to have Christ fill each one…and then overflow.

God will also see to it that as you draw closer to him, your husband will encounter him through your love. Nothing needs to be said; only done. Your prayers are heard through acts of service, sacrifices of your time and your body, and especially through your intimacy, when you both are the closest you can be.  

Be aware that you will have to fight. In my experience, being under attack is real. Don’t let anything stop you from praying for your husband, in whatever way you choose. If you are feeling weak, pray for his fortitude.

Do not underestimate the graces set aside for you and your spouse. They were given on your wedding day and will never run out.

God did not intend for you to despair. Ask for these graces any chance you get. They are your weapon, your fortress.

This sounds counterintuitive, but consider that we seek Christ as our first love: Detach from your spouse. Father Jacques Philippe says,

“We must put everything, without exception, into the hands of God, not by seeking any longer to manage or ‘to save’ ourselves by our own means: not in the material domain, nor the emotional, nor the spiritual… The measure of our interior peace will be that of our abandonment, consequently of our detachment.”

There is no situation where you can control all of your surroundings, your spouse’s actions, or the events at hand all while maintaining perfect, holy peace. In order to have and keep this peace, every segment of our lives must be abandoned to the will of God. Even our spouse.

Father Philippe goes into more detail on this is his book Searching for and Maintaining Peace, which would benefit every human being alive.

It takes time to realize the true meaning of marriage is a million times more than anything novels or movies show. The endless graces Christ gives in order to uphold our vows results in an immeasurable joy that’s hard to comprehend. This golden triangle, this bond, this promise, transcends every circumstance or battle imaginable. God’s covenant and love are meant to be there for the long haul...and so should we.


About the Author: Larabeth and her husband have been married for two years and have a one-year-old son. They reside in North Carolina for now, where Larabeth supports her husband through medical school while doing a mix of working, painting, writing and being a mother.

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Newlywed Life | A Letter to the Wife Striving to Be Like Mary.

KATE THIBODEAU

 

To the wife striving to be be like Mary,

Twenty-three years old, Catholic, and married to a wonderful Catholic man seems like ad ream, one I’m blessed to experience day by day. I met my husband in college, and we became friends. In the crazy hectic time of our senior year we fell in love, getting engaged shortly after graduation.

Photography:    Dennis Crider Photography   , c/o Spoken Bride Vendor    The Mantilla Company

Photography: Dennis Crider Photography, c/o Spoken Bride Vendor The Mantilla Company

In one quick and eventful year, I graduated, carried on a distance relationship, worked multiple jobs, lived alone, moved home to my parents’ house, got engaged, planned a large wedding, moved belongings into our new apartment, and married my best friend. It seems like a beautiful, chaotic whirlwind. Yet as a millennial introvert, plagued with a one-track mind and fear of change, I find myself married and unsure of what on God’s green earth I’m doing.

So much happening in my life at once was possibly God’s greatest challenge to me: a challenge to come out of my stationary existence and instead pursue greatness.

In moments of self-doubt, I still wonder how I got here. How I could be seen as worthy to be a good wife to my husband; his greatest helpmate towards heaven?

The most obvious sign my husband and I experienced in knowing we were called to this shared vocation came through daily opportunities to better our individual spiritual lives. We held each other to high standards of holiness, knowing we each desired a saintly spouse who would raise a faithful family.

During engagement, we prayed for chastity and for the strength to reach the altar as the best versions of ourselves. We appealed to the saints for their assistance and implored Mary’s divine aid through consecration. We received the sacrament of confession within an hour of our nuptials and made it to the altar in a state of celestial happiness and joyful hope for the future.

 With the honeymoon over and our lives settling down from the highs and stresses of wedding planning, I realize so much has happened, and feel like I still do not know how to be a wife. I am a terrible cook, an “adequate” housekeeper, and more than a little overwhelmed by the new changes my life has undergone--trying to find a new normal.

I find myself worrying about the novelty of married life: what can I make my husband for dinner today? Would he like this painting hung here? Am I giving him the support he needs? When will we know God is calling us to parenthood? Where will we live in five  years?

I find our anxieties and worries are rarely from heaven. In moments of stress, we tend to assume we are alone or that no other person could have experienced exactly what we are going through. However, that is simply not so.

My consecration to Mary in the 33 days preceding our wedding brought such peace; a peace I hope will always remind me to dismiss my negative thoughts and focus on Mary’s example.

In reflecting on the Joyful Mysteries of the rosary alone, I recall the challenges presented by Gabriel’s announcement and Mary’s  forthcoming marriage to Joseph. I cannot imagine a more stressful scenario than being told you are to carry the Son of God, along with the typical changes that accompany married life.

Mary rises to the occasion without question, and with a grace-filled yes. She is the ultimate example of a selfless, worthy wife. She was not ready for such an urgent and special task and did not know how to be the perfect wife or mother. Yet her trust and faith in our Lord proved her an ideal woman, a  model to all young and inexperienced wives.

 The greatest takeaway from my consecration came from Mother Teresa’s prayer to Mary to “lend me your heart.” I find myself praying these words whenever I struggle with patience, stress, anxiety, or self-doubt.

To young wives unsure of what they are doing or what their new vocation entails, I encourage you to join me, asking Mary to lend you her heart.

 Let her fill you with her virtue and grace to approach marriage as our husbands’ best friends and helpmates. Do not allow fear to paralyze you or doubt to detain you from serving God through your vocation. God calls us only to missions he knows we can gracefully undertake. He provides us with examples by which we can accept and rise to the occasion, with Mary’s yes as our wifely motto.

To new brides, know you are not alone. Look to Mary’s example and allow your vulnerability to help you love your husband through a season of change. I promise I will be praying along with you as we tackle the beauty of this: our vocation.


About the Author: Recently married to her best friend and partner towards salvation, Kate Thibodeau is learning how to best serve her vocation as a wife while using her God-given talents. With an English degree from Benedictine College, she strives to live the Benedictine motto: that in all things, God may be glorified. Kate loves literature, romance, beautiful music, pretty things, wedding planning, and building a community of strong Catholic women.

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Bridegrooms Share | On Differences of Opinion in Wedding Planning, Long-Distance Engagement, and Arguing with Love.

How beautiful that women called to the vocation of marriage are disposed to receive the love of both the divine and an earthly bridegroom. Married life, in its purest form, affords an opportunity to know the Father’s love more perfectly by giving to and receiving from our spouse. Every person, however, remains a mystery to be constantly unveiled and made more real--true to who God has created him or her to be.

To illuminate the engagement, wedding, and marriage experiences from the perspective of men chasing sainthood and excruciating love, we’ll be periodically sharing a word from the bridegrooms in our lives. This week we chatted with Andrew, a high school teacher, father of three, and husband to Spoken Bride’s Co-Founder and Editor in Chief, Stephanie Calis.

Tell us about your discernment journey, before and during the time you began dating your wife.

When we met in college, Stephanie was in a relationship and I wasn’t the sort of guy to try and intervene. In the classes we had together, I found myself more and more interested to hear what she would say. But I refused to admit I was romantically interested. I told my friend and bandmate, “I don’t want to date Stephanie, but I want to find someone who has all her qualities. Just someone like her.”

Although I had a consistent prayer life at the time, I was still in a band, doing band things, and didn’t always watch my language or sense of humor. There was something about my wife that’s hard to put into words; something that made me want to be better. It’s not just “pure,” or “holy,” but maybe “deeply worthy of love.” Like someone that you want to cherish.

What saints have played a role in your relationship?

JPII!I learned about the Theology of the Body from Stephanie and it was one of the most formative times in my life. I also have a longtime devotion to Saint Jude, because I can be dramatic and think normal things are “hopeless cases” like finishing a paper on time or getting a job. These two men of faith have always pulled through for us.

What was your engagement like, and how did you work through its challenges?

Our engagement was mostly grace-filled. We were in different states, however, five hours apart. We spent a lot of time on the phone, which was good for us in so many ways. When we’d see each other, though, it was tough not to be overwhelmed by our physical closeness. In striving to practice chastity, we tried to hold one another to a high standard and went to confession frequently.

One unexpected challenge of engagement was the necessary material preparations for marriage. We fought about everything. I thought Stephanie was materialistic. She thought I was an ascetic. I thought she was just tossing on everything in sight onto our wedding registry: tiny hand towels? Sure! More tiny hand towels in another shade? Sure! Sixteen champagne flutes as a future heirloom? What? It was awful. But we tried to persevere in communication and forgiveness.

To serve each other well in your wedding planning, I recommend being easy-going about the particulars. If something doesn’t fit your exact vision and is not a major question of morals or finances, let it slide. I’ve seen instances where one person’s ideals trample on the other’s opinions. Accepting one another’s choices for things like attire and flowers are a small way of sacrificing for your future spouse--accepting that his or her tastes aren’t identical to yours.

How do you handle disagreements and problem-solving with your spouse?

We try to hold hands or touch in some way while working out an argument. It calms us both down. We also try to give each other the benefit of the doubt. I once accused Stephanie of intentionally burning my scrambled eggs, for instance. It was pretty petty of me--it was also pretty ridiculous--and over time we’ve tried to apply the approach of trusting and assuming the other’s best intentions before making accusations.

What has surprised you most about married life?

How natural it felt. It just felt like the next step in our relationship. It was--and is--absolutely wonderful.

Andrew’s advice for Catholic grooms and husbands:

Do something kind--just one, tiny kind thing, even just saying, I love you--whenever you recognize the impulse to do something selfish or speak something unkind. It goes a long way to helping your mood and your relationship.

And forgive immediately, endlessly and unconditionally. You’ll both mess up, again and again and again, often making the exact same mistakes you just repented for. Forgive unconditionally.

To our brides, we hope you’ll share these words with your beloved. If there are particular insights or questions you’d like addressed in future posts like this one, and if the man in your life has his own wisdom to share, be sure to reach out on our social media or at submissions@spokenbride.com.